"I am pretty good at tennis, but I will never be as good as the wall. The wall is relentless."
- Mitch Hedberg
There are a lot of things that are relentless: The Internal Revenue Service, bills, a cat demanding food and the weather. The weather is relentless. When you want it to stop, it keeps coming and when you want it to continue, it stops. Seasons change and the pace changes.
One of the things we are reminded of when the pace changes is how quickly it can change and how powerless we are to stop it from changing. It is relentless.
Last weekend we were attacked from above by a weather phenomenon that has been given the name Hurricane Sandy. We like to name things and blame things. It's in our nature. We can't accept that "stuff happens," we need to find out whom to blame and what it is called. It's a "Storm of the Century," "Drought of the Decade" or some such moniker that identifies it until the next milestone event occurs - inevitably, because milestone events are relentless.
We tried. We tried to stock-up on D-batteries, water and bread. Presumably, because we think we can prepare for such events. Really, what we can do is stock-up on stuff ahead of an event. What we cannot do is hoard enough stuff so that we can make these events tolerable to our ever-increasing dependence on electricity and those so-called "Modern Conveniences," which become Modern Inconveniences when we no longer have them. I'd guess that, in our former Agrarian Society, when a big storm hit, the horses were boarded and the family hunkered-in. Once the storm passed, they would clean up and go about their business. Now, we have to restore power, services and all of those modern conveniences. Which way was better?
Sure, we have iPad's and HD cable television, and those losers in 1840 had to read books by candlelight and entertain themselves. In a lot of ways, we are bound by our lifestyle.
The most fragile areas of our country have the biggest property values and the highest demand. The California coastline, the Carolina's, the New Jersey shore all have property values in the millions of dollars, yet they are fragile to the extent that any big weather event renders them helpless. Is the luxury of a home on the beach in Stone Harbor worth the anxiety of what a storm could do to it? Many are now forced to re-build or demolish homes that were once worth a million dollars. But, what is worth?
Have we extended ourselves to the point that a weather event can remind us who is really in charge? Or have we failed to prepare ourselves for such events, knowing that they occur but ignoring their consequence? Thousands of people in New Jersey are without electric and natural gas service. Is it because we do not prepare or is it because we choose to ignore the circumstances?
Surely we have seen what Nor'Easter's and hurricanes can do to our coastline, yet we continue to build homes there and value them in the millions of dollars merely because they are close to something so fragile as the beach. It's a strange relationship - the home at the shore versus the consequence of something as relentless as the weather. That realization has done nothing to affect the value of property there. In fact, it has only increased in spite of those consequences. Are we willing to pay that price for these days of misery? Is that luxury so important to us that we are willing to risk the unknown and relentless force of nature to endure a few months of summer happiness?
They are questions that need to be asked. And I'm just the guy to ask them.